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Nigeria’s Heritage: Stolen Ancestral Stools Returned to Oba of Benin’s Palace ─NCMM

Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, CFR, Oba of Benin (2nd from left) and Mr. Olugbile Holloway, Director General of NCMM (standing), at the Oba’s Palace, in Benin City, Edo State Photo: Channels TV

*The National Commission for Museums and Monuments historical records show that the returned artifacts, including bronze and wooden royal stools (Ekete), made during the reign of Oba Eresoyen and Oba Esigie, were looted from the Oba of Benin Palace during the British punitive expedition of 1897, in the kingdom of Benin, in Edo State Nigeria

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Over a century of brutal plunder of the people’s cultural heritage by the colonial masters, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, CFR, the Oba of Benin, has finally taken custody of two stolen royal stools acquired from the German government has reached a symbolic milestone.

Historical documents show that the items, including bronze and wooden royal stools (Ekete), were made several centuries ago during the reigns of Oba Eresoyen and Oba Esigie, and looted from the Oba Palace during the British punitive expedition in 1897. Benin, current capital of Edo State.

ConsumerConnect reports that German authorities had transferred the artifacts to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) on behalf of the Nigerian government in 2022.

Mr. Olugbile Holloway, Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, made the official presentation of the repatriated artefacts on behalf of the Federal Government on Saturday, May 18, 2024 at Oba of Benin’s Palace, Benin City, Edo State capital.

During the presentation of the artefacts, Holloway pledged to address the Benin Throne and on behalf of NCMM, pledged to work closely with the Royal Court of Benin in uplifting and showcasing Edo culture and heritage.

He also affirmed that as the Benin Bronzes and other works of art gradually make their way to Nigeria, “NCMM will join hands with the Royal Court to create a befitting destination for people around the world to come and appreciate these works.”

The Director General of NCMM stated: “What you see before us was originally taken from the Royal Family in 1897. We have a bronze stool and a wooden stool.

“I speak on behalf of every member of my team and say that we remain loyal to the Royal Court. And if there is anything we can do, we will do it to support this commendable initiative.

“This heritage is not only the heritage of Benin, but also the heritage of Nigeria. When we talk about Benin’s heritage, there is no one who does not know the great works of ours.

“I appreciate you, we will always do what we can do with our powers to remember His Royal Majesty’s lineage.”

Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, CFR, Oba of Benin, after the unveiling of the repatriated artefacts, reportedly danced joyfully to the traditional Benin rendition in dramatic dance steps, with excited Chiefs and members of the royal family, and offered prayers to God and “his ancestors.”

Overwhelmed with joy, the Royal Father appreciated the German Government, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the NCMM leadership for their efforts in this regard.

In a historic move, the Oba later sat on one of the royal stools (Ekete) and personally presented a piece of white, symbolizing peace and blessings, to Mr Holloway, the report said.

Oba Ewuare II also prayed for the NCMM chief and his team, accompanied by the Curator of the National Museum in Benin, Mark Olaitan; Director, Legal Services, NCMM, Babatunde Adebiyi, during the visit where Royal Drummers gave a good account of their stewardship.